In TNG: "Coming of Age", Admiral Quinn gives Captain Picard the choice of becoming Commandant of Starfleet Academy.

QUINN: That's not enough. I want to promote you to Admiral, and I want you to take over as Commandant of Starfleet Academy.

PICARD: The Academy?


PICARD: The Academy?

QUINN: I need you close.

PICARD: Then there was never a problem with the Enterprise.

QUINN: No, but I had to be sure you hadn't been co-opted.

PICARD: Greg, this is politics, and I'm not good at politics. Surely there are others who are better suited.

QUINN: All right. Even if I am wrong, and I hope I am, you're still the best man for the job.

PICARD: I appreciate the value of what you're offering. It's not a decision I can make quickly.

QUINN: I need an answer soon.

If Quinn truly believes Picard is "the best man for the job" why did he not just order / transfer Picard to the Academy?

  • 11
    At that level of seniority, you don't just get ordered somewhere. It's a negotiation. Picard has enough friends and clout that he can just ask his Admiral buddies to block a transfer that he objects to.
    – Valorum
    Commented Sep 1, 2018 at 23:38

1 Answer 1


There are several reasons for Quinn to ask:

  • The point of the exercise was to put an ally in an important position. This wouldn't make much sense if said ally was going to be resentful about it.

  • It also doesn't make sense in general to put someone in a command position they're going to resent. It is true that Sisko was ordered to Deep Space Nine despite his objections, but at the time that was seen as an unimportant position and Starfleet was presumably short of officers after Wolf 359. But Commandant of the Academy is an absolutely critical position, and putting Picard in charge over his objections would be extremely unusual - and therefore noticeable, at a time when Quinn is trying desperately to avoid attention.

  • A Starfleet officer can't be obliged to accept promotion, as demonstrated by Riker. It isn't entirely clear whether the position of Commandant requires the rank of Admiral, but all the Commandants we know of in primary canon are admirals. There was a Captain in charge in the TOS novel Starfleet Academy, but it would at the very least be unusual, and again, Quinn needed to avoid any suggestion that the appointment was at all out of the ordinary.

I think the first point is the most important. As Picard said, this was politics, and it wouldn't have been good politics for Quinn to have ordered Picard into a position he didn't want. (Also, as Valorum points out, Picard probably has enough influence to block the transfer anyway.)

  • 1
    Not to mention that ST writers have never been very good at military knowledge...
    – RonJohn
    Commented Sep 2, 2018 at 4:29

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